From the SCMP today.
Having trouble finding the appropriate category to put this under. A few ideas that came to mind were:
1)How to win friends and influence people
2)Foreigners just don't understand us.
3)unwanted gifts - what to do with them
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (right) receives a gift of a watch from British transport minister Baroness Susan Kramer. Photo: AFP
Outspoken Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je Tuesday apologised for his slip of tongue over a remark that he would sell as scrap a precious pocket timepiece given to him as gift by British Transport Minister Baroness Susan Kramer.
“I must admit that was inappropriate and I should pay more attention to diplomatic decorum,” he told reporters when asked about the controversial remark he made.
“What is wrong is wrong and I will express my apology to the British transport minister,” he said, adding he would take some classes about diplomatic decorum soon.
Baroness Kramer also told reporters in Taipei Tuesday that she did not mind and she thought Ko was just being humorous.
Foreign affairs experts, however, said the remarks Ko made were rude and made Taiwan lose face.
“His remarks were as bad as they could possibly be,” said Stephen Chen, a former Taiwan representative to the US. “If Ko didn’t like the pocket timepiece, he could have simply said he valued the gift and would take good care of it,” Chen said.
He said the pocket timepiece is not a clock and should not be inappropriately associated as a clock. “The worst thing to say is to sell the precious watch to scarp dealer,” he noted.
Ko Wen-je, a high-flying surgeon who is a popular figure but known for his off-the-cuff remarks, drew a barrel of criticism from across Taiwan's political spectrum for his perceived rudeness.
In response, his British guest tried to play down the embarrassment. "I'm sorry. We learn something new each day. I had no idea a gift like this could be seen as anything other than positive.
In the UK a watch is precious - because nothing is more important than time," Kramer said.
She also highlighted the significance of the watch, which she termed as a "very unique item" from the House of Lords.
Rosalia Wu, a city councillor from the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party, later lambasted Ko on her Facebook page.
"City diplomacy is critical to Taiwan, as the mayor of the capital, he should have taken greater responsibility," Wu said.
Ko presented Kramer with a miniature model of Taipei 101, once the world's tallest skyscraper and an iconic feature of the city's skyline.
An independent candidate, Ko, 55, was elected as the mayor of the capital in the island's local elections in November, thrashing Sean Lien, son of former vice-president Lien Chan.
Ko sparked multiple controversies while campaigning for the post, including describing a female candidate from the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party as "young and pretty and just fit to sit behind a [department store] counter".
Although he was labelled as a "loose cannon" by some critics, he has been tolerated by supporters despite a string of similar gaffes.
A recent survey showed his approval rating one month into office stood at a comfortable 70 per cent, as staunch supporters hail him for pledging to battle corruption and streamline bureaucracy.